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Apr 05, 2004 - 01:45 PM

What About Pat?

by Jerry Flanagan
Governor Schwarzenegger says that collecting $27 million from special interest groups over the last eight months has not affected his resolve to listen to anybody, whether or not they can afford to pay. "I want to make sure that I sit down with everyone, but unconditionally," he said, according to today‚s San Jose Mercury News. "If someone has not voted for me, if someone has never endorsed me for anything . . . I still want to be able to sit down with that person the same way as someone who gives you money."

What about Pat Parker, whose is still waiting for her phone call from the Gov? Back in December, an aide to Arnold promised that someone would get back to Pat when she hand-delivered a letter to the governor at his $10,000 per sky-box seat fundraiser at a L.A. Laker game. Pat and Dave Parker of Orange came as our guests because we wanted to test whether real people with real problems but without ten grand could in fact get some time with Arnold.

Pat voted for McClintock. Her husband Dave voted for Arnold. They're both in their sixties and, since David was laid off by a small electronics firm in October 2001, the two have struggled to pay for their health insurance. With little notice, Blue Cross increased their monthly premium by 38 percent in 2003 - from $673 to $941. Pat and Dave wanted to talk to their governor about requiring health insurers to justify premium increases to the state -- the way auto insurers now have to. And as of today . . . no one from the Governor‚s staff has called. That's right, not even a flunky.

Pat needs a few extra minutes of Arnold's time now. Since December she has turned 65 and now receives health coverage through Medicare, replacing one worry with another. What will Schwarzenegger do to ensure that prescription drugs are affordable? Dave‚s not eligible for Medicare until December. Until then the Parker‚s will have to pay $572 a month and $1500 out-of-pocket just for his health care, not to mention the prescription drugs that Dave must have. Pat did the math: for every dollar Blue Cross paid for their prescription drugs last year, the Parker's paid two.

We assume that Blue Cross got some of Arnold's time when they delivered two separate checks, each for $25,000. Same goes for the other HMOs who have contributed to Schwarzenegger: Kaiser ($150,000), Health Net ($46,200), and PacifiCare ($25,000). Schwarzenegger has also received more than $290,000 in reported campaign contributions from pharmaceutical and biotech companies. When will Pat and Dave have their say?

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